Mutt's life hasn't worked out exactly as he had hoped. The fanciful dreams of his youth, inspired by his childhood in Los Angeles of the 1960s, have slowly yielded to the harsher realities of life as an adult. Bored and in a stagnant job that can't fulfill his yearning for excitement he feels trapped in his inertia.
Mutt plans a day at an air show with the kids, hoping that his passion for old planes will inspire him. While there, a surprise encounter with a vintage seaplane sparks something fresh in his soul. To Mutt, this chance discovery brings him back to a time when anything was possible. His life and passions were centered around the magic of a Hollywood movie studio and the Monsoon Goon, an abandoned ramshackle seaplane left to decay on the back lot. Thanks to the encouragement of Mr. D and the combined efforts of Mutt and his vivid imagination, Beeper and his flawless logic and Bear Spot's seamless courage, the Monsoon Goon is given a fighting chance.
Mutt comes to realize that he turned his back on his dreams and friendships of so long ago. Now, to move forward, Mutt has to go back a bit.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.57(d)|
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The Last Flight of the Monsoon Goon
By Gus Hennessy
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Gus Hennessy
All rights reserved.
"This is a perfect day for an air show," Mutt announced to his two young children as he packed his car with blankets, chairs, and snacks for the ride. The California sun was up, the air was crisp, and the morning was young. Heading for the annual Point Magu air show at the US Navy base in Oxnard, Mutt was excited about something for the first time in a long while. "You're going to love this, kids," he said to sell his daughter, Jinx, and son, Max, on his big idea. He buckled them into his aging Volvo station wagon. "For the price of admission, we get to spend the day with some pretty neat stuff." He hoped and prayed his children would share his passion for old airplanes ... at least for a few hours.
"Neat, Daddy?" Jinx quizzed. "Don't you mean groovy?"
Mutt smiled at his daughter's snarky allusion to his age. Inquisitive and smart at nine years old, Jinx was his first child. "Yeah, kiddo, that's what I meant ... groovy." The one-hour drive from their home in Van Nuys was a concern for him. It had been some time since he'd gone on an outing like this without his wife. His wife, Pepper, fashioned simple ways to occupy their children with songs and balloons. His other concern was about his amount of ready cash and the kids' tolerance for the big crowds. "There's nothing like a good airplane show," he stated to bolster his confidence. "Antique Spads, Nieuports, and Fokkers, restored and on display for all to see," he stated to bolster theirs. He had prepared sack lunches, and there was also a big bag of cookies and drinks.
"I can remember when this area was all bean fields and orchards," Mutt said on the drive to spark their interest. "Back when I was a kid." He thought briefly of his outings with his father along the same route.
"I could never see you as a kid," Jinx said, "way back in the olden days." Jinx continually questioned her father's taste in clothing, movies, and adventure. With piercing blue eyes and jet-black hair, Jinx took after her mother.
"You kids will never know what you missed," Mutt said to protect his memories. "I was a great kid."
"That's neat," Max said. "Neat-O!" Max went along with anything and at six years old was his father's son.
The three drove onto a sprawling lawn being used as a makeshift parking lot and found a spot. "Groovy!" Mutt said to support his daughter. The kids jumped out and looked up to the sky. A Stearman biplane passed slowly over their heads with a loud rumble.
"I hope it's not too noisy," Jinx groaned. Walking toward the entrance, the ambience of the show filled the air.
"That's music to my ears, kiddo," Mutt said and looked up toward the passing yellow biplane. He kept his eyes on the antique airplane until it passed, soaking up all of the sights and sounds. "What about you, Maximoto?" Max was standing in the same position as his father.
"Airplane music," Max gurgled. He watched his father carefully and emulated him in every manner. With big, brown eyes and sandy, blond hair, Max was a poster boy for anything imaginable.
"That's my boy," Mutt said and turned to his daughter. "Jinxee, how about you?"
"Groovy, Daddy," she said in a petulant tone. "Like really groovy."
Holding his children by the hand, Mutt stepped up to pay at the gate. A heavyset woman sat in a small square trailer behind a barred window. Her face was so close to the bars she gave Mutt the impression that she had been stuffed into the ticket box. "One adult and two children, please, both under eight."
"For the three of you," she said briskly, "that will be twenty dollars."
"The price has gone up," Mutt said, looking into the folds of his wallet. He pulled out his only twenty-dollar bill.
"Dad," Jinx crooned, "I'm nine now. Don't you remember my birthday?"
"I must have forgotten, sweetheart." Mutt gulped and feigned a smile at the big lady.
"And I'm six," Max said proudly.
"That bumps it up to twenty-five dollars, Diamond Jim," she announced in a harsh tone. "Cash only."
"I thought these air shows cleared out all of the vultures before they got started," Mutt said under his breath. Fighting a nagging bitterness, he thumbed past a ten spot and a few singles in his wallet. "I'm getting a little short," he said with a beaten look on his face. "Can you give us a break?" Mutt thought about how hard it had been to scrounge for the extra cash.
"Now, why would I do that?" she asked, looking into Max's big, brown eyes.
"Money is a bit tight these days," Mutt said softly, directly to her.
After an uncomfortable pause, she lit up. "Okay ... all right ... what's a few months between friends?" she said with a big smile. Her heavy hands, dirty from handling script and money all morning, pushed out three admission tickets. "You'll get me next time around," she said, winking at Max.
Mutt put away his wallet and shrugged. "Thank you very much, ma'am." He gathered up the tickets and said, "Thank the nice lady, Jinx, Max."
"Thank you," Jinx said and took the ticket from her dad's hand. Fiercely independent, she insisted on handling her own ticket. Jinx was her mother's girl.
Max held his gaze on the big woman and tried to wink back at her. "Thank you," he said.
"Enjoy the show, cutie patootie," she said kindly, winking at Max with her other eye. Max was fascinated with the eye change and blinked back at her, frozen in his tracks. "Next!" she shouted and, with a wave of her hand, scolded Mutt. "You're holding up the works, buddy boy."
"Okay," Mutt said. "Come on, kids." He beamed at the kindness and quickly walked them through the turnstile, hoping his luck would hold. "Thanks again."
Mutt was in his own heaven describing what he knew about each of the displays, whether the kids listened or not. "That's a Dauntless Dive Bomber," he claimed with authority. "And that's a Spad 13." He loved everything he saw at the air show.
Jinx started to light up when she noticed the unique graphics painted on the fronts and backs of some of the fighter planes. "Maybe this one liked to play cards," she said, pointing to a P-51 Mustang named Royal Flush. The ace of spades was painted on the nose. "He would need some more cards though." Jinx liked the colorful paint jobs on some of the race planes. "And this one liked to play checkers." Checkered flags and racing stripes adorned many of the displays.
"Good eye, kiddo," Mutt said. To no surprise, Max snuck under the ropes and kicked the tires of all the static displays. "Knock yourself out, Max, my boy," he said, knowing it would drive the curators crazy.
Wandering through the booths and displays, they found themselves in front of a giant metal hangar. Mutt's curiosity got the best of him, and he read the sign painted above the door: Restoration in Progress. Feeling drawn into the cavernous building, he ushered them through the door. "Come on, kids," he said. "Let's check this one out." He was fascinated with all of the displays. "Maybe we can cool off a little."
"It's just going to be another big airplane, "Jinx protested, but she changed her tune when she felt the cool breeze of air-conditioning.
"That's right, kiddo," Mutt answered, "another big airplane." Toward the rear of the big hangar was a Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplane under thorough restoration. "Just like the sign said," Mutt said, "restoration, a work in progress." He gulped and stood fast for a moment; it had been a long time since he had seen a Catalina seaplane up close.
"Mommy said that's what you say when you don't finish something you started," Jinx moaned, "a work in progress."
"Work in progress," Max mimicked. "That's Daddy."
"You don't see one of these every day," Mutt said, and bit his lip from the truth of the comment.
"That's a funny-looking airplane," Jinx said.
Although the plane had been taken apart into sections, Mutt recognized her every curve. "Isn't she beautiful?" Max ran under the velvet ropes to kick the tires. "I know a little about this type of seaplane."
"How come, Daddy?" Jinx asked with a quizzical look in her eyes. "It doesn't look like much, just a lot of big parts."
"Jinxee," Mutt said, and took both of them by the hands. "It's a really long story."
"But you will tell us?" Jinx asked cautiously. "We like most of your stories."
"Thanks, kiddo," Mutt said, not sure of the statement and still reeling from the truth of the previous comment. "You know I will, kids ... the whole story." Mutt was continually amazed at how smart his children were. In spite of some challenges with his career and some financial setbacks, Mutt had remained in relatively good spirits. After a layoff from a sales job he kept to stay busy, he tried to rekindle his passion as a freelance writer but had recently been dulled by a crippling inertia. "One of these days ..." He was transfixed by the sight of the seaplane. The trip to the air show was his first outing in months. The uncertainty of the future made him anxious, and he usually stayed close to home.
"I hope you tell us this one, Daddy," Jinx said, sensing something in her father's interest. "It looks really big."
"Oh, it is, kiddo," Mutt said. "Did you get all of the tires, Maximoto?"
"Yup," Max chirped proudly, "every one ... even two."
"I believe there is a story in everything we touch," Mutt said, looking over the seaplane. He was surprised by the energy that surrounded it, and like a magnet, it pulled him closer. His passion for storytelling and adventure scratched at him like the memory of an old friend. Swap meets and flea markets soothed Mutt's sense of history and sparked his imagination through everything he could put his hands on. Mutt touched things as if he could learn something from their very texture. "This one might take some time."
Mutt walked into the work area to get a closer look; his spider senses were keen. Resting on hard stand supports under the wings, the big airplane looked light, dry, and safe. The broad wings cast a shadow over the polished concrete floor, which was scattered with work lamps and rolling tool chests. Many of the aluminum panels had already been replaced around the body and wings. The temporary rivets waited for a final air frame inspection and stuck out like mechanical quills. The Wasp engines had been set up on stands, and the triple-bladed propellers were hanging on rolling racks. Folding tables were covered with hand tools and small parts. Everything in the hangar was dedicated to restoring this seaplane. The "Black Cat" Catalina seaplane was being pampered with great care. Mutt read from the work card on an easel posted under the nose of the aircraft. "This one was called the Typhoon Mc Goon," he said, almost struck down by his own memory mixing instantly with his imagination.
"That's a funny name for an airplane," Jinx said. "The Typhoon McGoon?"
"They did some pretty crazy stuff," Mutt said reflectively. "Back in the olden days."
"Like checkers and cards?" Jinx quizzed.
"Something like that, kiddo," Mutt said. "Maybe even a dragon or a sea monster."
"But a typhoon is a tropical storm," Jinx said with a gulp, "and a goon is a kind of monster."
"There's nothing to be afraid of, Jinxee," Mutt said to comfort his daughter. He watched a man that looked like a docent walk up with his hands clasped. "Besides, all of that happened a long time ago."
"Do you have any questions?" the man asked. "My name is Dr. Armbrewster. I'm the project manager. The restoration of the Typhoon McGoon is our pride and joy."
"Yes, I do." Mutt surveyed the room. "Where did they find this one? Most of these were destroyed after the war."
"That's a very good question," Armbrewster said. "Many of these were kept flying, some of them until the mid-1980s," he said with authority. "It became more and more difficult to find spare or replacement parts, so most of them were scrapped."
"Scrapped?" Jinx asked. "Like thrown away in the trash?"
"More like recycled," Mutt said to his clever daughter.
"Oh, good," Jinx said, delighted. "We have to save the environment."
"That's my girl," Mutt said.
"This one, however, is still a mystery to us," Armbrewster said.
He was wearing the blue vest of a volunteer and recounted what he knew. "She was discovered right here in California about four years ago. And pretty badly banged up when they found her."
"She?" Jinx asked. "Why is it a she?"
"All ships are referred to in the feminine," Mutt said. "It's an old custom."
"But that's an airplane, not a ship," Jinx said with more fascination.
"It's both," Mutt said. "These seaplanes were capable of landing and taking off in water," he said to his inquisitive audience. "They don't need a runway, just the ocean ... or a big lake." Mutt paused for a moment. "Sometimes just a big puddle."
"Wow," Jinx said. "That would be a neat trick."
"Where did they find this one exactly?" Mutt asked. "In a hangar or stashed away somewhere?" Mutt was privately soaking in the energy that surrounded the plane. "And when?"
"She washed up on the shore above Los Angeles about four years ago in a place called Mussel Shoals," Armbrewster said like he was reading from a script. "She was then put on exhibit out in Chino when we rescued her for restoration a little over three years ago. We feel that we got real lucky."
"But you originally found it on the beach?" Mutt asked. His pulse raced.
"Yes, and surprisingly intact," Armbrewster said. "Like it fell from a transport barge or ship and floated onto the beach."
"Was it ever reported missing?" Mutt's curiosity was piqued, and his ears burned like they were on fire. "Are there any records?" "None we could find," Armbrewster said. "It just washed up, out of the blue."
"It just washed up?" Mutt asked smartly. He stood in the presence of his wildest childhood dream and thought briefly of his two best friends growing up. "Out of nowhere." Mutt stepped over the rope barrier. "Like magic."
"Well, I wouldn't say by magic," Armbrewster said, beginning to get a little antsy at the level of Mutt's curiosity. "Perhaps a mystery ..."
"But for all you know, it may have floated on the ocean for some time, maybe many years," Mutt said and pushed assertively past Dr. Armbrewster. "I may know something ..."
"Please don't touch anything ..." Armbrewster was stressed. "We haven't discovered all of the records, and it was a long time ago."
"Wait here, kids. Jinx and Max, stay put for just a minute." Mutt reached up to touch the nose of the seaplane. Most of the skin of the aircraft had been resurfaced, replaced, or had a fresh coat of primer. "Nice work," he said.
"Our workers are some of the best in the nation," Armbrewster boasted with pride. "The serial numbers were clearly visible. We have a dispatch date of July 1942."
Mutt tapped his fingertips gently on the hull, deep in thought. "How did you come up with the name?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, sir," the Armbrewster said. "Please don't touch the aircraft."
"Indulge me for a minute, please," Mutt insisted. "I may know something about this particular airplane."
"Well, in that case," Armbrewster acquiesced.
Mutt walked around toward the tail, running his hands along the fuselage all the way back to the rear section. The airplane filled his senses. Stopping at the rear stabilizer, he scratched at the paint. Underneath the tail section was a remnant of yellow, red, and green paint. "Dragon scales!" Mutt yelled to his kids, who were waiting impatiently. "There is no way ..." Mutt stood for a moment in disbelief. "That's impossible," he uttered and then turned to Armbrewster. "This isn't the Typhoon McGoon."
"And you know this because ..." Armbrewster asked with a little tone in his voice.
"This is the Monsoon Goon," Mutt declared. He walked over and put his hand back on the nose. "I'm sure of it." Mutt's life flashed before his eyes. The names, faces, and memories of his childhood friends popped up in his mind's eye in vivid color and collided with the moment.
"We got the name from some letters left painted on the nose," the Armbrewster said, "along with some period photographs from a veteran's scrapbook. We didn't have much to go on."
"What happened to the jagged, yellow teeth and the big, green eyes?" Mutt asked. "Didn't it have a grand sea monster scaled paint job?"
"By the time we got her," Armbrewster said, "saltwater and ocean spray had washed off most of the factory finish as well as what looked like graffiti or paint splatter."
Excerpted from The Last Flight of the Monsoon Goon by Gus Hennessy. Copyright © 2014 Gus Hennessy. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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